What is there to say about Crystal Palace?
Did you know one of Villa's directors helped guide the formation of Palace, back in 1905? The new team applied to enter the Football League but saw their application rejected. Palace finally made it into the Third Division in 1920, and were out again before five years had passed. Now, they're one of England's ultimate yo-yo clubs, never managing to stay in the top division more than a few years. They've won promotion by finishing first a mere two times, and achieved it last year by finishing fifth before winning the playoffs.
Aston Villa and Crystal Palace have met just 31 times, with just 19 of those games being played in the top division. The first meeting occurred in 1967/1968, in the second division, with each side winning 1-0 on the road. Will history repeat itself?
The last time the two sides met it didn't end so well for Villa fans: Palace came to town on Boxing Day, mired in the relegation zone. They'd had just one away win when they arrived at Villa Park. But, Villa being Villa, the hosts were kind enough to allow Dwight Gayle a goal in the 92nd minute. This was after Villa controlled the majority of the possession, with the visitors seeking just a point and only threatening to break every so often.
That's because Palace are headed up by the delightful Tony Pulis. Known for never relegating a side, Pulis's approach to football might best be described as...practical. Long ball, route one, hoof and chase, any of these would also describe Pulis's tactics. It's working at Palace, though, who are currently even with Villa on points - so if they're still in danger of the drop, so too are Villa. Let's not think about that.
Of course, this isn't the first time Crystal Palace have had a boss that Villa fans should love to hate. Back in November 2001, Palace, in the First Division, appointed Trevor Francis as their manager, just after he left a stint at Birmingham City. While with our lovely Small Heath rivals, Francis managed to reach the promotion playoffs, but never win, while also losing the League Cup final to Liverpool. At Palace, Francis achieved great mediocrity, keeping the side solidly midtable. Now, of course, Francis is a pundit that keeps being assigned Villa matches despite his inability to keep his remarks unbiased.
Although there might not be many reasons for Villa fans, specifically, to hate Palace, in general it would be rather nice to see them pushed back down into the danger zone. This is the side that, despite being in 14th, has scored the lowest number of goals in the Premier League. Crystal Palace have put just 23 in the back of the net - in 32 games. Thanks Pulis! Your tactics are lighting up the league once more!
Sometimes the sit-deep, hit-on-counter-if-you-must, play-to-a-point strategy really backfires for the Eagles: they've failed to score in fifteen of their matches. With only two goalless draws to their name, that's a lot of points missed. There's a definite dullness surrounding the club. Last week's 3-0 over Cardiff was only the second time Palace managed to score three goals in a game - and it was against a side that is utterly clueless at defending.
Dull football, the lack of the ability to score goals, employing a guy who has an unhealthy attachment to a baseball cap, stealing Villa kits for fifty years...these all seem like good enough reasons to abhor Crystal Palace.